Our favourite United games at Goodison Park

Wednesday 22 November 2023 11:07

With Everton planning to relocate to a new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, Sunday's visit to Goodison Park may prove to be Manchester United's final one.

Although the Merseyside club has not yet confirmed when the first game could be played there, the official website evertonstadium.com confirms construction work is due to be completed in late 2024.

Everton's historic and atmospheric current ground has staged no fewer than 105 United fixtures since 1892, including three FA Cup semi-finals and even a home league game against Liverpool in 1948.

Goodison Park has witnessed many memorable scenes from our perspective and, in advance of this weekend's encounter, four of our club journalists have selected matches against the Toffees that hold personal significance...

Relive a thrilling comeback en route to winning the 2006/07 Premier League title.

Joe Ganley

Goodison Park is my favourite away ground in England, no question about that. It's just got this magical, intense, close feel – like you're in the middle of some kind of footballing oven. It's not the first ground you'd pick for a must-win Premier League away trip, put it that way.

That's the situation we faced in April 2007 – by far my favourite away game there. By the 50-minute mark, we were 2-0 down – with title rivals Chelsea leading Bolton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge. We had Manchester City and Chelsea (both away) still to negotiate before the end of the season. The title was undeniably on the line. Cue one of the great Ferguson-era comebacks.

John O'Shea fired in from close range, Toffees vice-captain Neville helpfully blasted one into his own net (The Guardian referred to him as Phil 'Sleeper Cell' Neville). Then, inevitably, Everton's forsaken son, Wayne Rooney, put United ahead for the first time in the game, with just over 10 minutes remaining.

Young winger Chris Eagles, sent clear by Rooney, made the game safe in added time, with a wonderfully composed finish (after a slight stumble), capping a breathless, kitchen-sink assault on the Park End goal during the second half. What followed was one of the great away-end celebrations - the kind you only get when a decisive step towards the title has been taken. Joyous memories.

Adam Marshall

I've been to Goodison on a handful of occasions, and was at the game where Nemanja Vidic scored the winner a couple of years later, but this FA Cup tie from 2005 sticks most in my mind. It wasn't a game for the faint hearted as it marked Rooney's first return to his former home ground and how the locals let him know their feelings on the subject. 'Once a Blue, always a Red' was the chant from the away end as the Everton faithful made it clear they felt let down by the budding superstar. (He was eventually 'twice a Blue' of course).

From what I remember, there was a police helicopter swirling overhead as I made my way into the ground, and a real air of hostility, that was maintained from the moment Rooney warmed up and appeared to get involved in some kind of verbal altercation with somebody on the pitch as he made his way towards the tunnel. The tone was set and he was mercilessly jeered and taunted with a ferociousness rarely seen, making the pig's head thrown at Luis Figo by Barcelona fans appear tame in comparison.

We won 2-0 to progress to the quarter-finals, thanks to goals from Quinton Fortune and Cristiano Ronaldo, but things started to get uglier as the result became a foregone conclusion. Rooney was denied a goal by Nigel Martyn but that didn't stop missiles raining down on him from the terraces. I think our 'keeper Roy Carroll was even struck by one late on.

The natives had grown increasingly restless and 'Wazza' was the focus for virtually all of their ire. From a United perspective, I think this was one to put in the 'get the job done and get out' category.

Watch Ruud van Nistelrooy bullet Cristiano Ronaldo's cross into the Everton net in 2004.

Steve Bartram

United have always had an innate ability to provoke the full gamut of emotions without warning, and so it proved in 2004’s last-gasp win at Goodison. From calm to smug to terrified to livid to some kind of cocktail of joy and relief, which we’ll call 'joylief', it took just 90 minutes to put years on the lives of every onlooker.

The first half went swimmingly, with Everton befuddled by the movement of newcomer Louis Saha, who thundered home two unerring finishes either side of Ruud van Nistelrooy’s typically predatory effort. Apparently home and hosed by the half-hour, both forwards then missed presentable chances and drew a stern half-time lecture from Sir Alex Ferguson for their profligacy.

The Scot’s mood darkened with each passing minute in the second half as the hosts, identifying an aerial weakness in United, clawed their way back to parity with three headers, including one at the wrong end from John O’Shea. All-square with 15 minutes left, anything could happen, such had been the shift in momentum.

Thankfully, Ruud spared blushes – and possibly saved lives – by powering home a back-post header in the final minute from Ronaldo’s brilliant cross, to leave the count at three points and innumerable emotions.

Everton 1 United 1 Video

Everton 1 United 1

6 August 1999: The treble winners get their season underway against Everton at Goodison Park...

Sam Carney

United’s first game back after the Treble triumph was also my maiden one as a supporter. My dad is an Evertonian and a veteran of many Goodison games during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, and so the home of the Toffees was a fitting place for me to be introduced to live sport at the age of six.

We sat with the home fans, in the Bullens Road Stand and while for large spells those around me were frustrated, I was delighted as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men seemed to be getting the campaign off to a winning start. Dwight Yorke picked up where he left off in 1998/99 by opening the scoring just seven minutes in.

I have little memory of the game’s other incidents - nearly a quarter of a century has passed! - but watching the highlights now, I’m struck by how threatening the Blues were, given the apparent gap in quality between the sides back then.

It looked like Yorke’s goal was going to be enough to give me a first-ever taste of an ‘away-day’ three-pointer, but Jaap Stam unfortunately diverted a Nick Barmby header into his own net in the dying minutes. It was a valuable early lesson not to expect football to always go your way.